American Indian; Community-based Participatory Research; Health Information; Healthcare Disparities; Internet; Qualitative Research


Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Public Health | Public Health Education and Promotion


Our research team explored Internet use among a heterogeneous American Indian (AI) population to determine Internet use in relation to health information seeking behaviors. Participants examined an AI culturally-tailored tobacco website as an example to explain what they wanted in an AI Internet health site. Using community-based participatory research, we conducted 10 focus groups with non-college AI men and women (N=96), stratified by age (18-29, 30-49, and 50 and over) to better understand their perceptions of Internet use and health information needs. We found that Internet use varied greatly among all strata. Participants referenced WebMD© more than any other website, but participants were not pleased with the design and navigation. When examining the sample website, participants across strata stressed that recreational and traditional tobacco use should be discussed. Participants in all strata desired a simple website design with easy to read text accompanied by images. In order to gain and maintain cultural respect, participants stated that web designers should be aware that some images hold cultural meaning, particularly tobacco. Baseline data are needed for AI’s use of the Internet to obtain health information; this research is helpful to address health inequalities among AI, particularly access to web-based health information.